Ready, Set, Go: Empowered Employee Engagement in Fundraising

As 2018 came to an end, resolutions swirling around my head, I began considering how to align my work and personal goals for the year ahead. Knowing that my focus in 2019 would be on a balanced lifestyle where exercise was part of daily life, I decided to ask for advice from a marathon-running colleague on ideas… her response was brilliant, “We should form a team and enter a race!” And so began our undertaking.

First, we needed a reason to form the team and a cause to get behind. As our team would be running in Vancouver, we decided that a local project was appropriate, and in looking at the various projects currently underway at Tides Canada we decided to support The Binner’s Project, a project that empowers binners in Vancouver’s downtown eastside through the creation of a circular economy for the local population.

Next we needed a race! Summer time seemed to work best, and we decided to sign up for a race that would take place early in the summer and would welcome participants with different skill levels, so anyone could take part.

With a cause and race, we next needed to empower our future team members in two ways: training and fundraising. The training was easy, we sourced best-practice materials and began having meetups for prospective team members to run together in pursuit of their goals. The hard part was turning those team members into fundraisers and setting personal goals along with personal strategies for raising the funds. I created a brief workshop and action sheet for team members to learn the basics of reaching out to their networks and the importance of asking with confidence through effective storytelling and the momentum of the crowd.

Today, our team is just getting warmed up as we look toward June. Each member of our growing team has the resources that they need in fundraising and physical training to hit the ground running… excuse the pun.

When thinking about how to apply these lessons to your organization, consider how you can make life easy for those who want to join. We often forget when we put our blood, sweat, and tears into projects, that other people are busy with their own projects and sometimes can feel intimidated in taking on something new: the easier we make it, the easier it is for them to say yes. A good checklist for engaged employee giving must include:

  • A cause that is personal to those engaged and being asked to support the campaign
  • A realistic timeline that allows for thoughtful planning, recruitment, fundraising, training, and some extra time just in case!
  • A guide of best practices for the actions you want team members to take on, especially for fundraising related activities
  • A worksheet for team members to check in on, to set goals and assess progress
  • Time to celebrate the victories along the way, on the day itself, and to thank and check in with everyone after the event

Employee engagement is a great way to turn your fellow staff into volunteer fundraisers, and if you can align your fundraising with a personal mission or goal, that’s a true win-win.

Trevor Loke is development manager at Tides Canada Foundation and principal of Trevor Loke Consulting